There are many names for it.
I call it fear.
Fear of being exposed. Seen. Known. Fear of diving deep into what lies beneath the surface of the words skimming the page. Fear of falling into the darkness and losing the light.
I feel this fear. It stalks me like a wolf slipping through the trees. Camouflaged by nature. Eyes peering out of the shadows. It follows my steps. Waiting.
I keep walking.
I do not want to stop and look for it. I want to pretend it’s not there. Not stalking me. Not waiting. I want to pretend it does not exist.
I am better than this, I tell myself.
And fear laughs. It knows better.
I want to turn around, go back, rewind time.
I want to rid my body of this urge to write, to tell the stories damning my arteries. I want to free myself from these chains.
“It’s not fear,” the voice inside my head, the one that loves me in all ways, even in my brokenness. quietly whispers. “It’s grief.”
I shrug my shoulders. dismissive. Angry. I step on a dried leaf lying on the forest floor. The crackling of its spindly spine breaking rustles in the silence.
I want to laugh. To pretend I didn’t hear the voice. I want to run deeper into the forest where the peering eyes cannot see me. I want to become a tree. Silent. Rooted in nothing but soil and dirt.
I want to be invisible.
I can’t move.
“The river is struggling to flow free of unwritten words,” the voice whispers.
“I can’t,” I tell the voice.
“You know better.”
And I do. Know better. And I know nothing at all about this thing called grief.
“Grief is a river,” the voice whispers. Is it the trees? Is it the hawk skimming the water’s surface?
Is it the wolf?
I want to block my ears. Shut off my mind.
I open my mouth, “Damn that river.”
“You have,” the voice replies. There is no rancour in its words. no condemnation. Only patience. And love.
“It’s been a week,” I hiss. “I’m done with this.”
“Life is never done with you. Even after your death, life carries your spirit,” the voice lovingly replies. “It is carrying your mother now.”
I sink down onto my knees. The forest floor is damp. Musty.
I gather a bunch of dead leaves in my hands. I raise them up. A priestess extending an offering to the forest goddess. To the Great Mother.
A ray of sunlight splinters through the foliage above. I release the gathered leaves from my hands. Dust motes shimmer and dance where the light finds them drifting effortlessly to the ground.
Bowed beneath the weight of that which I cannot express, I press my forehead to the earth and breathe into the darkness of its mysteries, its beauty, its light, its life and its dying nature.
“I’m tired,” I whisper to the Great Mother of this earth upon which I kneel.
“Let me carry you,” she replies.
“I’m too heavy.” The words come out as a sigh. A plaintive whisper escaping on a breath of air.
“Nothing is too heavy for Love,” the Great Mother replies.
A ghostly breath of air, soft as a feather, brushes against my skin. The leaves rustle.
I rise up from where I kneel on the forest floor.
I turn and peer into the darkness of the trees around me. I spy the wolf’s eyes watching me.
“I see you,” I say. I take a breath. “I come in peace and in grief. I come in sorrow and in fear. No matter what I carry with me, I come in Love.”
The wolf blinks his great yellow eyes and slowly lowers himself to the forest floor. I watch his eyes close. He falls effortlessly into slumber.
Life whispers through the leaves of the trees moving in the gentle breeze that stirs their branches.
Life lays silently beneath my feet where fallen leaves decay.
Life is here. So is fear. Sorrow. Decay. Grief. Joy. Gratitude. Grace.
And always, Love.
I carry on through the forest. The wolf slumbers. The trees fall silent.
The Great Mother carries my weight with loving care. The earth holds me up.
Thank you DS for your call. Your words of love and encouragement. Your beauty and honesty.